Court to decide on stay after Paris

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 30, 2015

Federal judges won’t decide whether to freeze an Obama administration climate change rule prior to international climate talks this year, to the chagrin of at least one Senate Republican.

A panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order laying out a schedule for a handful of requests from states and industries to halt implementation of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Foes of the administration have asked the court to stay the rule while EPA’s critics challenge the regulation that aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

The order issued today requires all those who want to ask for a stay to do so by Nov. 5 and directs EPA to file its final response to those requests by Dec. 23. Legal experts say the three-judge panel will likely decide whether to grant a stay early in 2016.

The schedule adopted by the court matches the time frame EPA laid out in a request submitted yesterday.

It also means the decision will come after the United States participates in U.N. climate negotiations in Paris that will last from Nov. 30 until Dec. 11.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) yesterday criticized the administration for requesting a legal decision after the Paris talks. “The EPA has been slow walking the publication of the Clean Power Plan in an attempt to delay the inevitable, and now is asking the federal court to delay next steps on the rule’s legal challenges until after the international climate talks in Paris,” he said in a statement (E&ENews PM, Oct. 28).

EPA’s general counsel, Avi Garbow, said today that the timing of the Paris talks had nothing to do with the timetable.

“Keep in mind, we didn’t move for a stay; others did,” he said. “When we talk about timing and litigation, one of the key questions that everybody asks is, ‘What’s a reasonable amount of time for the government to intelligently respond to the motion at issue?'”

He added, “I don’t think that Paris or anything else factors into this, this is just good litigation” (Greenwire, Oct. 29).